Sunday 29 June 2014

Sebkhet Al Fasl, Jubail in late June

I made the very long day trip with Bernard Bracken to Sebkhet Al Fasl, Jubail on Friday. Part of the reason was to see if the red-wattled lapwing reported a couple of times by Jem Babbington was still there.

It wasn't and we looked extensively three times during the day in the area it had been. However the mudflats are so extensive it would only have had to move on 300 metres and we would have missed it.

There was some compensation for it not being in the area just south of the golf course. Among the many waders, that were there, were three red necked phalarope.

red necked phalarope with Kentish plover by Bernard Bracken

Two of the three were still in breeding plumage. They are presumed to be females which went to the arctic to breed, laid eggs and came south almost immediately to leave the males to the rearing. This is typical female red necked phalarope behaviour though late June is a little early for the return passage.

three red necked phalarope

Bernard Bracken has kindly allowed me to post two of his pictures which were better than mine.

Kentish plover

Over ninety percent of all the other waders in this part of the flooded Sebkhet were of two species: Kentish plover and black winged stilt.

Black winged stilt

There were plenty of juveniles of both species.


There were a small number of other waders which may well not have been in perfect health and so not made the spring travel further north. A dunlin was among them.

common tern among other terns

There were at least four types of tern: white cheeked tern, little tern, gull billed tern and a small number of common tern.

three white cheeked tern

White cheeked tern and common tern are very similar. At this time of year, the bill of white cheeked tern is almost black compared with mid red for common tern. The bill of white cheeked tern is more slender and it curves downwards which is well seen in the above photograph.


Out in the deeper water were at least five hundred flamingo.  I have seen ten times that number in winter but clearly plenty over-summer.

The next blog looks at the birds seen elsewhere in the Sebkhet including the fresh water areas.

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